On changing times and the myth of having it all:
I had more from Jane Maas, author of “Mad Women,” than I could squeeze into today’s Business Monday story on her, her book and the successful AMC-TV series “Mad Men” about a New York City advertising agency in the 1960s.
In her recently released book, “Mad Women,” Maas tells it like it was for women like her who broke into the male-dominated industry then. Some have even said the show’s Peggy Olson character — the first female copywriter for the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency — was based on Maas. But she’s not so sure.
Anyway, in an interview last week, Maas had some interesting observations about how things changed as the 1960s wore on and into the 1970s. That era after JFK’s assassination was a time of rapid and enormous cultural change with the Vietnam War, Civil Rights movement, Black power and gay rights movements and, finally, the women’s movement.
The Equal Rights Amendment didn’t pass then, but by the 1970s women felt they were able to do anything, Maas said. And as more women became advertising copywriters, the television commercials they wrote mirrored that belief. They showed women as astronauts, as chairman of the board, as the boss.
“Women weren’t really there yet, but they were written by women and portraying what we thought we could be, Maas said.
In the 1970s, women thought they could have it all, do it all — raise a family and have a successful marriage and career. All you needed was not to sleep and have the stamina of a bear, Maas said.
Of course, it was a myth, she says.
“Today we know you can’t have it all,” she said. “Most working mothers I speak with today know there’s a lot of guilt. If you’re at the office, you’re missing your kid’s play. If you do that, you’re missing a big meeting at the office. Therefore you’re guilty most of the time about something.”